Edmonton Oilers: Who is Next for the Rafters?


On Friday Night, the Edmonton Oilers had a thrilling 7-5 victory over the mighty New York Rangers to win their fifth straight game at home, for the first time since 1987.

More importantly though: Glen Sather was honoured by the Edmonton Oilers for his outstanding career as a coach and executive with the franchise. It was a great ceremony.

On Twitter today, I saw some talks about who is potentially next for their number hanging on the rafters and I am going to give my two cents for the possible candidates and some ideas that the Edmonton Oilers could do with their future move to Rogers Place next season.

Borrowing from the Eskimos

If there’s one thing the Edmonton Oilers could do: Borrow from the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL.

The Edmonton Eskimos have the Wall of Honour, where instead of retiring numbers, they honour the numbers of the players and allowing the number to be in circulation. The Eskimos have 35 numbers honoured at Commonwealth Stadium and I would love to see the Edmonton Oilers to move in that favour.

Look at teams like the Montreal Canadiens: In my opinion, I hate how they have so many numbers out of circulation but they are a very unique team in this regard. I’m not saying that the players should not be honoured because they for sure deserve it. However, there are a lot of “ugly” numbers available to Montreal Canadiens players.

I think teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs get it right by honouring certain players. I like how the Edmonton Oilers retire numbers of players that made it to the Hall of Fame (with the exception of Al Hamilton). With the honouring of numbers, you get to have nights for important players to the Oilers, but were not Hall of Famers. I think it’s a win-win solution moving forward.

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Kevin LoweYou can say what you want as Kevin Lowe the Hockey Executive, but I think it’s really important to honour Kevin Lowe the Hockey Player. With the Edmonton Oilers, Kevin Lowe was instrumental with the Edmonton Oilers as one of the few members who won all five Stanley Cups with the Franchise. Lowe also won a Stanley Cup with many former Edmonton Oilers in 1994 with the New York Rangers. Lowe played over 1000 regular season games with the Edmonton Oilers alone, which is a franchise record. Heck, he’s the only Edmonton Oiler to play 1000+ games with the organization alone. He did not put up Hall of Fame numbers, probably the Hall of Very Good worthy.

Paul Almeida had some great points concerning Kevin Lowe going to the Rafters today and is worth a checkout and follow. I raised the issue about Hall and it would be pretty interesting if they retired Lowe’s number with Hall wearing it. Would Hall pull a Bourque and wear a different number (or in Oiler way, Rem Murray switching from 17 to 16 during Kurri’s number retirement), or maybe Hall’s number would be “grandfathered” as Lowe gave Hall the endorsement to wear the number four. Remember: Hall is the only Edmonton Oiler to wear Lowe’s former number since Lowe left. That definitely means something.

Verdict: Raise it to the Rafters, retire the number.

Doug WeightDoug Weight is my all time favourite Edmonton Oiler as a kid. I did not have the chance to see the glory days of the 80s and Doug Weight was the guy of the 1990s. Weight is 7th all time for points as an Edmonton Oiler. Weight was also the last Oiler to net 100 points in an NHL season. He served as captain for two years before being dealt in a crushing trade to the St.Louis Blues. Weight’s number was like Lowe’s in a way: it was not worn for many years since Weight left until recently when Bodgan Yakimov wore it and currently worn by Anders Nilsson. It bugs me a little bit, considering Weight is one of my favorites. However, as an Oiler, Doug Weight did not win many accolades, which is a crying shame and is a long shot to make it to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Verdict: Wall of Honour. Weight gets a special night as his name is raised to the Wall of Honour.

Ryan SmythThis one is really tough. Ryan Smyth BLED Orange and Blue for the greater part of his career. He sits 6th all time in Edmonton Oiler scoring: The five ahead of him all have their numbers retired by the team. Ryan Smyth did a lot of the team beyond hockey and continues to be an ambassador for the team. Sure, he had a four year hiatus away from the team, but like Kevin Lowe, he ended up retiring as an Edmonton Oiler. He will not end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame and that’s the biggest wall for him getting his number retired. However, this is a number that will likely NEVER be worn by anyone else in the Edmonton Oiler organization. He ranks second in games played as an Edmonton Oiler, just behind Kevin Lowe. It’s tough verdict.

Verdict: Raise it to the Rafters, Retire the Number. 

While he’s not a Hall of Famer, and arguments can be made about watering down the quality of the retired numbers, I think Ryan Smyth is an exception due to his longevity and intangibles he brought to the Edmonton Oilers.

Bill Ranford and Andy MoogBill Ranford was the Conn Smythe winner in the 1990 Stanley Cup championship. He came after the glory days of the 1980s, and is currently the leader for games played by a goaltender with the Edmonton Oilers. He played over nine seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. However, the biggest knock for Ranford is the lack of accolades besides the longevity. He was also in the early to mid 90s, which was a harsh one for the Edmonton Oilers. Not to say that the losing ways was on Billy Ranford. He was not a bad goalie, but compared to Grant Fuhr, who won more and is a Hall of Famer, it’s tough to raise Ranford’s number to the rafters.

Likewise, so is Andy Moog, the guy that was traded for Ranford in the 1980s. Moog was a good goalie that platooned with Grant Fuhr but was eventually traded in the late 80s. Moog was a good goalie, like Ranford, but not Hall of Fame worthy.

Verdict: Both get Honoured on a Wall of Honour.

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There are plenty of candidates that could be retired or honoured with the Edmonton Oilers. I feel that the Edmonton Oilers would be better still retiring some numbers and softening the lofty Hall of Fame requirements, but not too much. There are plenty of great Edmonton Oilers who were not Hall of Fame worthy and I feel only two more Banners should be raised so far: Kevin Lowe and Ryan Smyth and honouring other players like Weight, Ranford and Moog on a Wall of Honour.